Tandoori Chicken Made Easy
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Tandoori Chicken Made Easy

The Tandoori chicken is easily the most emblematic item in the Indian cuisine. It gets its name from the tandoor or the clay oven. The meat is tenderized in a marinade of yogurt and spices. The characteristic red hue comes from either food colour or the Kashmiri chilly, which is flaming red. Though food dyes are used in India, most chefs would rather go along with the colouring lent by turmeric and saffron. Nevertheless, you are at liberty to add a bit of food colouring, should you like your chicken bright red.

The tandoor is difficult to come by outside the North Indian kitchen, but that’s not a worry. You can cook it over a charcoal fired grill or in an oven with the same result.

You will need-

 8 chicken quarters (cleaned & skinned)

 8 tablespoons lemon juice

 2 teaspoons salt

 Oil for basting

for the marinade

 10 cloves

 2 teaspoons coriander seeds

 2 teaspoons cumin seeds

 10 pods cardamom

 4 X 1 ½ sticks of cinnamon

 2 bay leaves

 2 medium sized onions, chopped

 4 cloves garlic, skinned and chopped

 3 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped

 2 teaspoons red chilly powder

 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

 1 ½ teaspoons turmeric powder

 350 ml thick curd or yoghurt

 1 tablespoon Bengal gram flour (besan)

 1 tablespoon ghee

 A pinch of saffron or food colour (optional)

the method

  1. Incise the chicken quarters with a sharp knife, with diagonal cuts at one inch intervals. Rub in the mixture of lemon juice and salt thoroughly, and set aside.
  2. On a round bottomed pan, heat the cloves, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaves on a low flame for about 15 minutes. Remove and when cool, grind coarsely in a mortar.
  3. Heat the ghee, again on a low flame, and when its hot, add the Bengal gram flour. Keep stirring till the colour turns a dull yellow (not brown). Remove from the fire and allow it to cool.
  4. Blend the ground spices, the gram flour, onions, ginger, garlic and the remaining spices with curd in a food processor till you get a smooth consistency.
  5. You may add a few drops of red food dye if you choose
  6. Dip the chicken quarters in the marinade till all the pieces are submerged in the mixture. Refrigerate for at least 8-24 hours, turning the pieces over every 3 hours.
  7. Fire the grill till the charcoal glows a fiery red. Place the chicken pieces on the grill and cook, turning the pieces over occasionally and basting with oil. Voila, your tandoori chicken is ready
  8. Remove and serve when hot, with lemon wedges and onion rings


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